July 22, 2013

Product Review: Khaki’s of Carmel Wool Trousers

It’s been well-established that gray trousers are a wonderful centerpiece for any professional wardrobe. They pair well with almost anything, come in a variety of materials, and, frankly, just look good. I have four pairs of gray wool trousers and any time I’m not wearing light colored khakis or jeans I’m likely to be seen in them. During my last visit to Carmel, Jim Ockert was kind enough to let me try out a pair of gray trousers from his private label collection. His store has many colorful and unique items but this one is as simple as ever. It still bears the signs of Jim’s touch, but does so subtly. It’s not something that everyone will need to invest in but I think it’s a great high-end staple at a surprisingly good price. 

First off, let me describe the fit. I would call it a “classic” slim cut with a rise that is slightly higher that what we see on most trousers these days. The fit is very similar to my Howard Yount flannels, but just a hair fuller and with the higher rise mentioned. The leg opening on a 31 is about 8” which I find to work well for me. Overall, I think it is an attractive fit that will stand out well between the peg-legged chinos and roomy triple-pleat pants that we generally see in offices today. I also enjoy the classic rise - it feels great and I think that it gives a very “bossy” and masculine look.

The fabric and construction are where we really begin to see the details that Jim is known for. The waistband and pockets of the pants are lined with cotton poplin and oxford shirting fabric for a soft feel and attractive look (although it will not often be seen). All the interior seams are taped with oxford fabric as well. Like most high-quality trousers, these feature a split waistband in order to easily accommodate waist adjustments. The fabric is a lightweight, mid-gray worsted wool. It’s very soft and springy, allowing it to resist wrinkles, drape well, and hold a crease for a long time. As you would expect from Jim’s products, the pants are made in the USA. All in all, these pants work so well because they aren’t trying to be anything but a well-made staple. All the thought and hard work go in to the materials, construction and fit, not any trendy details or unnecessary hardware. This is the kind of trouser you could wear 3 days per week all year. 

Although the trousers aren’t cheap, they’re less expensive than I was expecting and sit well in the range of other popular options. Similar trousers from Howard Yount come in around $170-200, and Epaulet often ranges from $195-250. At $250, the Khaki’s of Carmel trousers represent a high-quality staple that, although it is an investment for most of us, costs hundreds less than equivalents from other luxury brands like Incotex, Luciano Barbera, and  Cucinelli. It’s also worth mentioning that Jim’s famed dress khakis are also available online. They feature a similar cut and construction, but with a sturdy cotton twill. I have only tried them on briefly but they look great and would make a solid alternative to these dress slacks (and they look pretty great on Gus).

I’d like to thank Jim again for letting me try out some of the new items in his store. I know that he puts a lot of thought and hard work into designing and creating the items that bear his company’s name, and I’m very privileged to experience the finished product firsthand. There is some truly exceptional stuff coming this fall, and I look forward to seeing the final products in the coming months. 


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